PM’s dinner for Somnath – a private, Bengali affair

New Delhi, April 15 (Inditop) Perhaps for the first time, the catering at a dinner hosted by the prime minister was not by a government organisation but by a private restaurant chain.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intimate dinner in honour of outgoing Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee at his 7 Race Course Road residence Tuesday evening had an authentic Bengali menu, with seafood and fish dishes dominating the table.

Usually, official dinners are looked after by the state-owned India Tourism Development Corporation – but, in a break from tradition, the catering was handled by Oh Calcutta, a fine dining restaurant, which is part of the Speciality Restaurants Private Limited.

The menu was an all-Bengali affair, with special lentil dishes and elaborate seafood recipes like bhapa chingri or steamed shrimp.

The invitation list was very exclusive, with just about 20 persons – including senior political leaders of various parties and cultural personalities like sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan.

The dinner has, however, become more famous for its absentees – chief among them, leader of opposition and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani. There is an ongoing war of words between Advani and the PM in recent days, over the BJP leader terming the latter as a “weak prime minister”.

The other notable absence was any representation from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the former party of the speaker.